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A new 500 for a... totally new Fiat

Fiat 500: front driving view.

New Fiat 500, based on the new Panda platform.

APN, 13 July 2007.

For Fiat, the new 500 is more than a new model. It is part of a new era for the Italian brand, after hard times followed by a failed partnership with General Motors (2000-2005), and then, the revival.

That revival did not wait for the new 500. It started earlier with the new and successful Grande Punto in the B-segment (supermini, sub-compact), the new Panda minicar, on which the new 500 is based (the Panda / 500 platform will be also used for the new Ford Ka, expected for 2008), and the new C-segment Bravo (lower medium, compact category), in addition to the agreement with Suzuki to sell the SX4 under the Fiat badge, as the Fiat Sedici.

Fiat 500: side view.

Prices from €10,500: premium minicar rather than a cheap one.

So, the new 500 is part of a ‘new Fiat’ era, a successful one, as it seems, and that's what Fiat means now by the Manifesto of the "New Fiat".

However, with prices starting in Europe from around €10,500, the new Fiat 500 doesn't revive all what the cheap original 500 represented.

The new 500 is a dearer car compared to its size category, and the Italian carmaker hopes to generate a handsome profit margin on a nostalgic concept, somehow like the New Mini (from around €15,900 in France for example) does at the BMW Group since 2001, or like the New Beetle (from around €15,140, France), launched by VW in 1998.

Of course, New Mini  and New Beetle are bigger and more expensive than the Fiat 500, but the comparison stands more on the nostalgia-premium concept than on the actual sizes and prices of these models. On a pure price basis, other similarly sized models come significantly cheaper, such as the Panda, the new Renault Twingo, or the Czech-made trio Citroën C1, Peugeot 107 and Toyota Aygo (common project between PSA and Toyota).

Anyway, the Italian taste for colours and design cannot be underestimated, and the new 500 is a good illustration. The main point is that, unlike the original Fiat 500, the new one won't be bought because it is a cheap car, but as a statement of a chic difference.

A look at the new Fiat products is more than sufficient to show that Fiat is back to what it has always been known for: a brand of exciting popular cars, with a clear energetic identity.

Designed by the Fiat Style Centre and built in the plant in Tychy (Poland), the new 500 is a ‘3-door’ model with compact dimensions: 355 centimetres long, 163 cm wide, 149 cm tall and with a wheelbase of 230 centimetres. A compact car with soft, rounded line.

50 years between the original Fiat 500 (background) and the new one.

50 years between the original (background) and the new 500.

Now, divide the Fiat 500 name by ten, and you get the exact age of the model. 50 years ago, the first edition of the Fiat 500 was launched, before it became an icon of motoring, especially in Italy, but not just there.

Dante Giacosa’s designed 500 was launched on July 4, 1957, as a cycle of rebirth was closing after the war, and a period of renewal of the company’s product range was also coming to an end, opening the way for a cycle of successes in the coming decade, one of the brightest periods in the brand’s one hundred year history.

Fiat 500: back driving view.

A compact car built to achieve a 5-star rating in the EuroNCAP.

The new 500 respects the original concept in its shape and function, but with significant innovations for the segment.

First, the car is launched with the full range of engines (69 bhp 1.2. 75 bhp 1.3 Multijet with DPF and 100 bhp 1.4 16v) ready to meet the emissions limits set by Euro 5 standards, more than two years before the legislative deadline.

Fiat 500: dash and front red seats.

15 types of upholstery.

It is also the first time that a compact car (3.55 metres) has been built to achieve a 5-star rating in the EuroNCAP impact tests, and Fiat claims that the 500 is ready for the 6-star test if and when the new rating is introduced.

The choices made in the construction of the range of outfits and services include 7 airbags as standard equipment (it is the only compact to offer a kneebag), and an advanced ESP available with all engines (standard on the 100 bhp 1.4 16v).

Fiat 500 Blue&Me NAV

Blue&Me NAV, developed with Microsoft.

The new 500 offers 4 specification levels, 3 engines at the launch, 12 colours, including 6 vintage colours that will bring the 1950s and 1960s to mind, plus tri-coat white produced by a process that is usually adopted on luxury cars, 15 types of upholstery including luxurious Cordura and Frau Leather, 9 types of wheel rims, and 19 types of stickers.

A a second generation Blue&Me is optionally available, and an iPod can be incorporated thanks to the socket, the battery charger, USB and 12V sockets. A new portable navigator was developed for the 500 with Magneti Marelli, which is fitted directly on the dashboard and connects to other vehicle functions.

Fiat 500, white steering wheel.

One of the steering wheel rim options.

Other options include a new ‘fragrance diffuser’ with a choice of three fragrances, a jacket hanger on the head-restraint, a mobile phone holder, aluminium pedals, the 500 logo on the kick panel of the door, and three types of leather upholstery for the gear lever knob, to match the steering wheel. Free-time accessories include the original luggage rack that fits on the rear window and a convenient storage unit in the loading floor.

A new type of ignition key also makes its debut on the new model, on which the protective covering can be changed, choosing from 9 covers that match the bodywork or the stickers.

Fiat 500: interior photo, seats.

 3 different fabric or leather interiors (in a choice of 3 shades).

Some loan plans include 5 years or 500,000 km warranty, with the ‘500 Free’ package: a mobile workshop will be at his disposal 24 hours a day to guarantee complete roadside service. These two products will be available on all European markets, starting in Italy, through Sava, and in France, from Fiat Crédit, which are the first two markets where the Fiat 500 will be launched.

The Fiat 500 is the first Fiat model to use its own name as a logo, positioning it on the wheel hubs and rims.

Fiat 500: aluminium pedals option.

Aluminium pedals option.

The new Fiat 500 comes with a choice of three engines combined with 5 or 6 speed mechanical gearboxes (a Dualogic sequential robotised 5-speed gearbox will be available at a later date for the petrol engines).

There are two petrol units, the 69 bhp 1.2 and the 100 bhp 1.4 from the Fire family that boasts a total output of over ten million engines to date. The third is the 75 bhp 1.3 16v Multijet turbodiesel with a particulate trap (PDF) as standard equipment. You can see the technical details of the engines and gearboxes in their own pages, or in the specifications page.

MacPherson at the front, and semi-independent at the rear.

In terms of safety, the new Fiat 500 is the first car in this category to offer up to 7 airbags (front, side, curtain- and knee-bags are all standard throughout the range, except for the Naked version). It also proposes a number of active safety elements such as the ABS with EBD function (standard in all Pop, Sports and Lounge versions), ESP (Electronic Stability Program, standard or optional, depending on versions and markets), which includes other function such as the ASR (Anti Slip Regulation), HBA (Hydraulic Brake Assistance) and a Hill Holder device. A more detailed list of the safety features is available in the safety page.

Fiat 500: jacket hanger behind the headrest.

Fiat 500: convenient storage under the seat cushion.

Fiat 500: boot.

Optional jacket hanger and convenient storage solutions.

The suspension adopts an independent MacPherson system at the front, and semi-independent interconnected wheels with a torsion axle at the rear (see also specifications page). The two layouts have evolved from a Magneti Marelli design and have been used on other Fiat models in the past; they have now been revised and modified for the new car, to guarantee outstanding handling and the highest possible level of comfort.

The brake system on the new car has front discs with a diameter of 240 mm; they are solid for versions with the 1.2 8v engine and ventilated for the 1.3 Multijet, with a diameter of 257 mm for versions with the 100 bhp 1.4 16v. The rear brakes mount drums (180 mm) on the 1.2 8v and 1.3 Multijet, and discs (240 mm) on the 1.4 16v.

Equipment (Italian Market) - The Fiat 500 offers over 500,000 ways of customising the car, with 12 body colours, 4 specifications (Naked, Pop, Sport and Lounge), 3 different fabric or leather interiors (in a choice of 3 shades) and 9 types of wheel rims, (7 alloys), as well as 100 accessories created specifically for the model.

The Naked version will not be sold in Italy, where the range will start from the Pop version. So, depending on your market, consider the Naked version to be rather "undressed", until you get the equipment list from your dealer.

Fiat 500: Original luggage rack that fits on the rear window.

Original luggage rack that fits on the rear window.

The Pop version includes (standard) two front airbags, two curtain-bags, two sidebags and one knee-bag, ABS complete with EBD, front headlights with DRL function (daytime lights), specific upholstery with a choice of Ivory or Black elements, Dualdrive electric power steering, black electric wing mirrors, height-adjustable steering wheel, centralised locking and electric windows, 175/65 R14" wheels (steel) with integral wheel hubs. The 500 Pop specification is available with all three engines, but with the 100 bhp 1.4 16v the outfit includes the ESP system and an instrument panel with sporty graphics.

Fiat 500: 20 body colours.

12 body colours.

The Lounge version includes the Chrome kit which features chrome-plated inserts in the seals of the side windows, on the exhaust terminal, on the trim of the inside door handle, the gear lever and the front and rear bumpers. On the outside, the new 500 Lounge features 185/55 R15" alloys, electric body-coloured wing mirrors and a fixed glass roof with sunshade. Inside, it features special fabrics, a leather-upholstered steering wheel with the controls of the Blue&Me system, manual climate control, a radio, CD and MP3 player, a height adjustable front seat, a 50/50 split rear seat with head-restraints, a key with customised remote control and an active handle on the tailgate.

Fiat 500: 19 types of stickers.

19 types of stickers.

The Sport specification includes sporty seats with special foam, a rear spoiler, interior upholstery in exclusive colours and fabrics, a chrome-plated exhaust terminal and chrome inserts in the door sills. It also offers 185/55 R15" sporty alloys, manual climate control, a sporty steering wheel in two colours with the controls for the Blue&Me system, a radio with CD and MP3 player, and electric wing mirrors painted the same colour as the bodywork.

The Sport and Lounge equipped with the 100 bhp 1.4 16v engine also offer the ESP system as standard equipment and an instrument panel with sporty graphics.

The list of optional equipment includes the automatic climate control system, the robotised gearbox, the Sky Dome, the Interscope Hi-Fi system, the Blue&Me Nav, Blue&Me Map 500 and many others.

The Fiat 500 can be equipped with some special devices from the Autonomy Program, the initiative introduced by the company more than eleven years ago to develop services and vehicles that provide individual and collective transport for people with reduced motor capacities.

An outfit by Guidosimplex developed specifically for the new car has an electronic ring accelerator under the steering wheel with a vertical service brake. And to make it easy to fit a wheelchair on the rear seat and make the driver completely autonomous, the driver’s seat can swivel 90°.

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